This article was published on November 4, 2011

Why writing about Microsoft is painful

Why writing about Microsoft is painful
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

When TNW’s Editor in Chief, Zee, asked if I was willing to take over our then fledgling Microsoft channel, I jumped at the chance. For the few of you who don’t know, I’m closing out my time at University while writing, and so the chance to focus on a single topic was appealing; if I could hone on one niche, I thought, I could do a better job.

I was right. I’ve been running our Microsoft channel for about a year now, and can say without conceit that I have, through blood, sweat, and hangovers, put together one of the better blogs covering Microsoft. Not that I can take much pride in that, as there isn’t much competition in the Microsoft coverage business. I was at BUILD earlier this year, and us press people got together for a few drinks (well, they had one) and I joked to the small group that if the hotel bar’s ceiling collapsed at that moment, there would be no Microsoft coverage in the media for months.

To put it honestly, there simply aren’t many people who write strictly about Microsoft, and make the company their topic. This suits me. I get to be a big fish in a small pond, but I used to wonder why this was the case. Why don’t more people write about Microsoft? I now know, and following a few kvetchy comments on my recent posts, am going to tell you.


Primarily, people do not want to read about Microsoft. They want to read about Apple. Even Google-related content is intrinsically less popular than Apple-focused content. Add ‘iPad’ to your post title, and enjoy double the pageviews, easy.  And this is not simply because Apple has great products. If Apple and Microsoft both had iPads in the market, and they were equally good, the Apple product would drive more views. This is simply the state of the readership of the technology press. I have been watching TNW’s analytics for years. This is true.

But that is only part of the issue. You would not believe how annoying Microsoft fanboys, and haters, are. I hate both those terms (cliche gives me a headache), but I dislike the two groups of people more. If I write a story about an update to a Microsoft product that is far behind its competition, and say so, I get flamed for being, variously, a ‘MS hater,’ an ‘Appel fanboi,’ and ‘biased trash.’ Oh well. But then if Microsoft does something that I find to be good, and worthy of praise, then I am, obviously, ‘on the take,’ ‘sucking M$’s d***,” and so forth.

I try to deal with this by being as honest and even-handed as possible, but I still end up attracting both camps of whining. It’s a pain. It makes me think about changing what I write about. I’m not thin-skinned, and I can take an Internet beating just as well I can handle a person in the physical, but over time one can get bored with being targeted.

I get it

So I understand why people don’t write about Microsoft. It doesn’t drive the pageviews that coverage of other companies can, and the readership is comically bad. I’m going to keep doing it because I enjoy covering the company, but I fully understand why others do not.

Oddly, Apple bloggers, so far as I can tell, are a group that don’t get along. The opposite is true for people who cover MSFT. We get along fine, and work together and source diligently. I wonder what that says.

As a final note, what might I suggest as a solution to all of this? Frankly the only thing that I can summon is for bad comments on posts to be responded to by the community with disdain. Don’t feed the trolls, of course, but if they get slapped every time they say something stupid, it could help. But until Microsoft manages to have more ‘normal’ fans, and the technology world becomes less polarized and dichotomous over what the company does, I doubt that much will change.

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